Jim Austin's Vermonter at Large
Jim Austin
Jim Austin
is a freelance writer from Putney, Vermont.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 07.30.03


Society of hypocrites

Page one of a recent edition of Vermont's Brattleboro Reformer was like a slap in the face with a wet mullet.

On the left side above the fold was a grim-looking gentleman representing ALANA, a local community organization with an equal rights agenda. The man was holding a copy of The Truth at Last, a newspaper out of Georgia proclaiming Christian white racial superiority and hatred of everyone else.

On the other side of page one, also above the fold, was an Associated Press item entitled "Vatican steps up opposition to gay unions."

The article states that the Pope has been speaking out against legalized same-sex marriages for the past few months. The majority of us read the white supremacy article with a mixture of revulsion and fear. The Pope's words are taken as gospel by millions of the Catholic faithful and certainly respected by the majority of non-Catholics. And yet both the white supremacists and the Catholic Church are advocating against specific groups of people.

With the Klan types it is blacks, Jews, and gays. With the Catholic Church it is specifically gays and by inference anyone who isn't Catholic.

The leaders of one group march in strange attire and bellow out their hatred to anyone who will listen. The leaders of the Catholic faith either engage in child molestation or protect those that do. Our society shuns one organization of bigots and gives tax breaks to the other.

If I offered you a choice between tolerating an organization who hates black people or one that protects child rapists, which would you select?

If you sell marijuana to a consenting adult in this country you could count on spending several years as a guest of the state in one of our penitentiaries. Marijuana has not been proven to have very many health implications, other than sapping the motivation and increasing appetite. In fact MJ has been prescribed by doctors for their cancer patients to reduce nausea caused by chemotherapy.

On the other hand, if you sell a consenting adult cigarettes you could make a nice living and sleep like a baby at night. The fact that those cigarettes may shorten the user's life and end up killing him by strangling on his own phlegm or rotting his lungs with cancer is not even on your radar screen.

We reward tobacco farmers with subsidies and give huge tax breaks to tobacco manufacturers. We give dope dealers 20 years in jail.

On that same front page another handgun tragedy was outlined. It's the same old story of children playing with handguns, resulting in a grievous injury.

The injured boy's aunt stated one of the most blatant of our society's hypocrisies when she said, "If being killed by a handgun were a disease, the government would be all over this, but the gun lobby is so powerful that nothing can be done."

Our government will spend millions this year protecting us from West Nile virus whose human victims may be counted on the fingers of one hand and yet close their eyes to the thousands of preventable handgun deaths of children all over the country. With a stroke of the pen our government could save thousands of children from death or serious injury but they don't have the spine to confront gun manufacturers and their lickspittle lackeys in the NRA.

You can't write an article about hypocrisy without including the impeachment saga of President Clinton. He told a lie about his sex life and scandalized our representatives in government. For this, Clinton was impeached by Congress.

George Bush, on the other hand, has traded our surplus for a staggering deficit, the highest in history. He has lied to us in order to finish off a war started by his father and he has given tax breaks to big business in an era where big business is as corrupt an episode of the Sopranos.

Is he going to be impeached? Don't be naive.

We have evolved into a society of hypocrites. Our government is the motherlode of hypocrisy. Until we insist on honesty, until we start dissecting the double standards in our country and then doing something about them, we'll just keep sinking deeper into a quagmire of our own making.